Police searching for sexual battery suspect; neighbors react

Neighbors: "That could have been my child" after they learned that the suspect pulled the young teenage girl into a dark laundry room and sexually batted her.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is looking for the public's help in identifying a suspect in a sexual battery case from Sunday.

The incident was reported to police around 11 a.m. The victim, who is in her early teens, was walking in the 2000 block of Hyde Park Road on the Westside and was followed by an unknown suspect.

The male suspect followed the victim through the parking lot of an apartment complex and pulled her into a laundry room where he sexually battered her. 

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man who is 15-20 years old with brown eyes and hair, and has a heart tattoo on his upper arm. He's also 5-foot-8 to 6-feet tall and weighs between 120 lbs. to 150 lbs.

Several neighbors in the area say they had no idea the rape happened until First Coast News told them.

"That could've been my child because my child walks from work every night," Gloria Sirmans told First Coast News.

Sirmans says young girls and teens often hangout in the area.

"They be walking all time of the night," Sirmans added.

Sirmans neighbor, Ariel Byrd, has four children. We met Byrd as she walked home with three of her small children. She says she fears for their safety.

"I always keep my eye on my kids," Byrd said. "It's real sad for something like that to happen out here."

She's fed up with the area. According to JSO crime statistics, in the month of June, there were 28 incidents including theft, carjackings and rape. 

"I'm trying to find somewhere to move now," Byrd said.

Sirman says she's staying put "I know my neighbors, they look out for and I look out for them."
      
However, she says she won't rest well, until the suspect is behind bars.

Anyone who may know this man is urged to contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or you can remain anonymous and call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS, you may be eligible for a monetary reward if your tip leads to an arrest. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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